Tribunal nullifies election of Bayelsa state governor Duoye Diri; orders INEC to conduct fresh election within 90 days

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The Bayelsa state Governorship Election Tribunal sitting in Abuja has dismissed the election of the state governor, Douye Diri, and has ordered INEC to conduct a fresh election within 90 days.

A three-man panel of the tribunal sat this morning Monday, August 17, and ordered the nullification of the election. Two of the judges ruled in favor of the nullification while one ruled against the dismissal.

In a split judgment of two to at least one, the three-member panel ruled that the election was unlawful thanks to the exclusion of Action Nigeria political party (ADP) and its candidate, King George from the November 16, 2019 governorship election.

The Advanced Nigeria political party (ANDP) had filed a petition challenging the victory of Governor Diri within the November 19 governorship election. The party accused INEC of unlawfully excluding it’s candidate, King George, from the election.

In its defense, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) said that the party’s Deputy Governorship candidate during the November 2019 governorship election within the state was 34 years old as at the time of nomination and so didn’t qualify to contest the election.

ANDP however told the tribunal that its initial Deputy Governorship Candidate, David Esinkuma was duly substituted by the Party within the allowed timeframe, following the notification from INEC that he’s under-age.

Justice Yunusa Musa who delivered the lead judgment within the petition, said that INEC has no power to disqualify any candidate and insists that the petition of the ANDP stands. Justice Musa discerned that only a court has the ability to disqualify any candidate for any election which the petition from ANDP was filed within the 21 days which is that the stipulated time for petitions to be filed.

He described INEC’s action to exclude the ANDP from the Bayelsa Governorship Election as an illegality.

He thereafter nullified the election of Governor Douye Diri and ordered INEC to hold out a fresh election within 90 days.

INEC is anticipated to incorporate the ANDP within the forthcoming bye-election.

Over the weekend, the tribunal affirmed Governor Duoye’s election after another party within the state, Alliance For Democracy, claimed the deputy governor parades a forged NYSC certificate. The tribunal in dismissing the petition, stated that the petitioner did not prove the allegations of forgery.

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